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Come Home to Your True Self in 2022

So many of us have felt estranged in the last two years – estranged from ourselves and from some of those we’ve been close to. We’ve been isolated, in hiding and out of rhythm. But as 2022 begins, it’s time to shake off the cloak of fear and dysfunction. God made us to live in health and is calli…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

So many of us have felt estranged in the last two years – estranged from ourselves and from some of those we’ve been close to. We’ve been isolated, in hiding and out of rhythm. But as 2022 begins, it’s time to shake off the cloak of fear and dysfunction. God made us to live in health and is calling us to return to that person he made us to be. 

Richard Rohr describes the internal conflict we may feel between who we are and the version of ourselves that we’ve become: “This person God wills us to be is not a predetermined, static mold to which we must conform. Rather, it is our true self; that is, a secret self hidden in and one with the divine freedom. 

Phrased differently, we can say that God cannot hear the prayer of someone who does not exist. The [false] self constructed of ideologies and social principles, the self that defines itself and proclaims its own worthiness is most unworthy of the claim to reality before God.”

The 1963 march on Washington

Frederick Buechner tells a story that beautifully describes what it is like to rediscover ourselves. 

In 1963 I went on that famous March on Washington, and the clearest memory I have of it is standing near the Lincoln Memorial hearing the song “We Shall Overcome” sung by the quarter of a million or so people who were there. And while I listened, my eye fell on one very old Black man, with a face like shoe leather and a sleazy suit and an expression that was more befuddled than anything else; and I wondered to my self if, quite apart from the whole civil-rights question, that poor old bird could ever conceivably overcome anything.

He was there to become a human being. Well, and so were the rest of us. And so are we all, no less befuddled than he when you come right down to it. Poor old bird, poor young birds, every one of us. And deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome some day, as he will, by God’s grace, by helping the seed of the kingdom grow in ourselves and in each other until finally in all of us it becomes a tree where the birds of the air can come and make their nests in our branches. That is all that matters really.

Becoming truly human

This other war is the war not to conquer, but the war to become whole and at peace inside our skins. It is a war not of conquest, but of liberation, because the object of this other war is to liberate that dimension of selfhood that involves the capacity to forgive and to will the good not only of the self but of all other selves.

This other war is the war to become a human being. This is the goal that we are really after and that God is really after. This is the goal that power, success, and security are only forlorn substitutes for. This is the victory that not all our human armory of self-confidence and wisdom and personality can win for us—not simply to be treated as humans but to become at last truly human.

May we each live such a story in 2022. The world needs the version of you God made you to be. It may require risk to regroup and rediscover that person we were before we began hiding. But the risk is worth it. The coping mechanisms may have been necessary for a season, but only your true self can help change the world as it needs changing. 

This is your one life on the planet. Today Mary Oliver’s question rings in my ears:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

Yes – what will you do? Your first step is to return to yourself.

Comments (3)

  • Thanks so much for your post, Seth! My word for the year is redefined. A lot of things are encompassed with this. I am coming into this year with hope and expectancy! Blessings to you, your family and Adventures!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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